Farmers must get better at talking to journalists and the mainstream media, says a Nuffield report.
Nuffield Scholar Anna Jones (pictured above) spent a year investigating ways that the media views and reports agricultural issues.
Now published, her Nuffield report is called Help or Hinder? How the mainstream media portrays farming to the public.
Anna’s key messages are that there is an urban/rural disconnect – and both the media and farming industry are contributing to it.
Some mainstream media coverage is clouded by urban bias, knee-jerk distrust of agribusiness, her report argues.
The mainstream media often fails to distinguish between campaigners and informers and sometimes relies on too few sources with an overt political agenda, she says.
There is also a severe lack of agricultural specialism among general news journalists, says Anna.
Farmers and industry are fuelling the disconnect through a lack of openness and transparency, she asserts.
As an industry, agriculture is disproportionately defensive in the face of legitimate challenge, with disunity among farming sectors and a sense of ‘exceptionalism’ or entitlement to positive coverage.
The public debate and narrative around agriculture is being dominated by farming unions and lobbyists, says Anna’s report.
Politics at an industry level is drowning out individuals at a farm level, contributing to more distrust, it continues.
This makes it all the more important that farmers get their message across in an open and transparent way.
A full copy of the report can be downloaded here.